You? You are a great person. And there is a ton of stuff that you can do way better than me, I am sure of it. But can I tell you a hard truth? The iced coffee you are making at home… Most likely? it kind-of sucks. If you’re like most people, you spend a good chunk of the spring, fall, and winter making your own hot coffee. But probably, you have given up on trying to make your own iced coffee. It doesn’t have to be this way.
Today, there will be little-to-no theological, political or social pondering on Jeff’s Deep Thoughts. Today, I want to give you a little help in making your home-made iced coffee not suck. So here we go:
The Night Before
Brew coffee. I am not going to tell you how. You already know this part. But just do it at the strength you like to drink it at. Don’t listen to all those poseurs who tell you to make it extra strong. You don’t have to try and protect your coffee from being watered down by ice cubes.
Fill a travel mug somewhere between 1/4 and 1/2 full. Finding the perfect amount will take some doing. For me, it is a bit over a third cup. The variables to consider:
- How hot is it going to be where you will be tomorrow? if it is going to be warmer, edge toward the 1/2 mark. If it is going to be cooler, go nearer the 1/4 mark.
- How long do you want your coffee to last? Too much frozen coffee denies you access earlier in the day (unless you want to chip away at it with a wooden spoon like an Italian Ice.) Too little frozen coffee means it won’t be cold later in the day.
- What kind of travel mug are you using? If you spent a bunch of money on your travel mug, hopefully you got what you paid for. If it is good, you will need less ice. If you’re a cheapskate like me, and you’re running with a plastic old thing, it will not insulate it as well.
If you’re a heathen and wish to cheapen your coffee experience with sugar, milk, cream, syrup, creamer, etc. then put some in now. Just put in enough for what is already in the cup. When you fill it the rest of the way tomorrow, you can put in the appropriate extra amount then.
This right here is a ninja move. When the coffee melts tomorrow, it will keep the ratio correct and not overwhelm your cup with black coffee.
Prop your mug carefully in the freezer. Bags of frozen vegetables, or those cooler bags filled with mysterious blue gel are pretty good for this. They give you some control over the angle you are propping at. We will get back to that in a minute.
The reason you are not simply placing the coffee in the freezer is that this leaves you a circle of frozen coffee midway down your travel mug. The circumference of this circle is determined by the diamter of your travel mug.. This isn’t a bad thing. But it could be so much better.
When you prop the mug you create an oval shape. The sharper the angle the mug sits at, the larger this oval will be. The more surface area, the more quickly and effectively the coffee will be cooled off. The precise angle is a lot like the question of how much coffee to start with. It will take some experimentation to get it perfect. I find that propping at about a 45-degree angle is pretty good for my needs. Be careful, here, though, if the angle is not sharp enough coffee will drip out of your mug and make a big mess.
Put the rest of the coffee in the refridgerator. If you might want to do normal coffee at home, throw some in an ice cube tray. If you use a ton of sugar, you might want to pre-sweeten it while it is still hot. It dissolves a little easier that way. If you’re not consuming enough sugar to choke Willy Wonka, you probably will be able to mix the sugar in even when it is cold.
The morning of
Pull the mug out of the freezer right when you wake up. Fill up the mug the rest of the way. Put your milk and other junk in there if you must.
Drink through out your morning routine. Especially right after you brush your teeth. That always tastes so good and freshens your breath.
Top off before you go.
Enjoy your still-cold iced coffee through out the day. Think nice thoughts about me.